Queensland Writers Week Drive-by #1: Charlotte Nash-Stewart

Up and comer Charlotte Nash-Stewart is a new writer to look out for; her work is lyrical, disturbing and constantly challenging (in a good way). By day she is the Word Engineer, by night she’s the fiction stalker.

1. I first knew I was a writer when … 
… I was in a uni tute room, sometime in 2007. Up until then, I’d somehow avoided making the link in my mind between writing fiction and real occupations people took seriously. I know. I’m sometimes slow like that. But then, the gate valve was open. That semester, I wrote stories with machine-gun dragons, spooky dryad forests rising in the future urban wasteland, and a talking rat on James Cook’s Endeavour. Some of them, people said they liked. I was in.

2. I love my genre because … 
Spec fic allows me to connect all the things about the universe I like and find fascinating in one place. Before I wrote spec fic, I rattled around different technical careers, never quite satisfied, because getting good at a technical profession usually requires narrowing (and deepening) your knowledge base. I prefer breadth. I like being able to take from history, hard physics, philosophy, genetics, psychology, or whatever … and do anything from serious comment to gratuitous adventure. And I love reading other writers to experience how they’ve pulled all those threads together, too.

3. If I didn’t write I would … 
… try to content myself with a job in the engineering sector, preferably involving powerful machinery. But I’d probably be in and out of jobs every few years, trying not to get bored. I suspect I’d experiment with weird hobbies. Whatever, it wouldn’t be good.

4. The story that has influenced me most as a writer … 
In the spec fic arena, Jurassic Park got into my blood in my teens and never really left. Then, much later for me, came Zodiac and Snow Crash. Both Michael Crichton and Neal Stephenson did/do (very different) things with tech stories that make my mind dance like Kermit. My writing comes out nothing like theirs, but somewhere inside, that’s what I’m thinking about. Ok, that’s three stories.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Donuts. With mock cream. Not that grainy, sugary stuff you get at the supermarket either. The velvet smooth emulsified fat kind that (I’m pretty sure) comes in giant tubs at independent bakeries. A perfectly fried donut, slightly crispy, slashed down the middle, stuffed with said cream and a thin stripe of never-was-fruit jam. Oh, mmmmmm.

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